I was recently in Nashville to visit our new granddaughter and family and attended a Nashville Sounds Pacific Coast League game at First Tennessee Park. If you don’t consider Nashville to be on the Pacific Coast you were probably good in geography in school.
During the game they had one of those races around the ballpark that have become so popular. I think it started in Milwaukee where they had the “Racing Sausages” at Miller Park. They debuted in the early ‘90s and were a big hit.
The sausages became so popular other parks copied the idea. For example, Cleveland has racing condiments(mustard, ketchup and onions) and Pittsburgh has the racing pirogues, a mash potato and meat sandwich popular in the area.
Washington took it a step farther with the “Racing Presidents” at the Nationals games. Dressed in period style, the presidents have big foam heads and they’re quite popular. Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt have been staples of the race and in the last couple years William Taft has joined in. Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge also raced in past seasons but have since been retired. Rumor has it Donald Trump may soon join the racing presidents and that several Russian underworld characters have been enlisted to help him win.
At the Nashville I attended they had country singers racing around the ballpark. Cartoonish characters representing Johnny Cash, George Jones and Reba McIntire raced in the middle of the fifth inning while some classic country song wailed on the public address system.
And that got me thinking. If Milwaukee can race wieners, Washington can race presidents and Nashville can race country singers, why can’t we have a race every night right here in Salem? I think we should.
We can take some of Salem’s finest from our history of excellence and find someone to make costumes that resemble these citizens. I propose Jim Taliaferro, Carey Harveycutter and Charlie Hammersley figures would make great subjects for a nightly race, held while the grounds crew is grooming the infield at mid-game.
It would be great. They could play “Salem born” over the public address system and people would look forward to the race every night, much like the wieners and the presidents.
Who else would you like to see in there? Let me know, and maybe the Red Sox would consider it.
PLAYER OUTLASTS STADIUM
Here’s something I came up recently that I found interesting. Major League pitcher Bartolo Colon out-lasted Atlanta’s last baseball stadium.
It’s true, not fake news. Turner Field was reconfigured after the 1996 Olympics and opened for Major League baseball in 1997. It remained the home of the Braves through the 2016 season, with the final game being played on October 2 of last year. This year the Braves moved into the new SunTrust Park.
Colon made his major league debut on April 4, 1997, pitching for the Cleveland Indians against the Angels. That was the same week Turner Field opened for baseball and Colon is still taking the ball in big league games. Ironically, he’s now pitching for the Braves. He’ll be 44 next Wednesday, May 24, and through last week he was 1-4 with a not so sterling 7.22 ERA. But he’s still in the big leagues, and Turner Field is not.
Here’s another interesting note. Colon pitched for Kinston in the Carolina League in 1995, where he won 13 games and posted a 1.96 earned run average, earning the CL Pitcher of the Year award. Colon was shut down with a bruised elbow on August 1 of that year and a week later Salem Memorial Ballpark (then known as Salem Memorial Stadium) opened on August 7 of 1995. So, as far as I can tell, Colon is the last player to have played a Carolina League game at Kiwanis Field (then Salem Municipal) who is still in the big leagues.
And, strange as it seems, Turner Field opened AFTER our ballpark and it’s already been replaced.
Makes you appreciate Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, doesn’t it?
Here’s something I never heard before that a friend pointed out to me the other day. He said the Atlanta Braves tomahawk logo was designed by a VMI graduate who put “VMI” in the logo.
Upon further examination, it looks to be true. The handle of the tomahawk is attached by what looks to be a substance that spells out “VMI” when you look closely. The “M” and the “I” sort of run together, but it sure looks like VMI to me.